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Macron accuses Turkey of stoking anti-France sentiment in Africa

Tensions have risen between Paris and Ankara over the French president's defence of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad
Macron at a press conference at the G5 Sahel summit on 30 June 2020 in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott (AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey on Friday of promoting anti-French sentiment in Africa, amid growing tensions between Paris and Ankara. 

Speaking to Jeune Afrique magazine, Macron claimed Turkey and Russia were trying to play up "post-colonial resentment" towards France. 

"We must not be naive on this subject: many of those who speak, who make videos, who are present in the French-speaking media are funded by Russia or Turkey," he told the magazine. 

Macron accused Turkey of contributing to misunderstandings towards his defence of caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, following the murder of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who was brutally killed after showing his class one such caricature in a class on freedom of speech. 

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"When I decided to attack radical Islam... my words were distorted. By the Muslim Brotherhood - quite widely - but also by Turkey, which has the ability to influence a lot of public opinion, including in sub-Saharan Africa," the French leader said.

Earlier this year, France's foreign ministry took to Twitter to condemn TRT World, Turkey's state broadcaster, for a video it made on France's colonial history in Africa. 

It claimed the video was "biased" and rejected a claim made in the video that the French treasury controlled the currencies of 14 African countries. 

The French government's defence of cartoons in the wake of the Paty murder prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with whom Macron is in disagreement over several issues, to call for a boycott of French goods.

Demonstrations also took place across the Muslim world denouncing France's stance on Islam.

In the wake of the president's statements, there have been several attacks against French targets, including on a World War One armistice event attended by French diplomats in Jeddah and a knife attack at the French consulate, also in Saudi Arabia.

A knife attack in Nice killed three people late last month.

Macron's criticism of Turkey come days after he called on Muslim leaders in France to draft a charter of "republican values" as part of its broader clampdown on radical Islam.

A draft law on “separatism” is expected to be presented to the cabinet on 9 December. Excerpts of the bill reportedly include restrictions on home-schooling and issuing children "identification numbers" to ensure they attend school.

Some critics in France worry that the country’s decades-old focus on Islam leads to a conflation between Muslims and violent extremism, while failing to stop - or exacerbating - the latter.

They say it fosters discrimination and Islamophobia, and misuses and misinterprets the French conception of secularism - laicite.

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